A former top official of the UN’s nuclear watchdog agency has said that the recently-signed nuclear deal’s provision allowing Iran more than three weeks notice before accepting international inspectors will help the country cheat in its nuclear obligations.
Olli Heinonen, the former deputy director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and a 27-year veteran of the agency, made his comments to the Washington Free Beacon Tuesday.
“Iran has not changed its nuclear course. It’s keeping all the options open” for building nuclear arms, Heinonen said, adding that Iran has signed an IAEA additional protocol permitting short-notice inspections but is delaying ratification for eight years.
In a meeting with reporters, the Finnish nuclear expert said components for nuclear bombs or warheads can be put together in a relatively small space, some 239 square yards in size.
With a dispute settlement process that gives the Iranians 24 days before allowing inspectors in, hiding nuclear arms development work will be made easier, he said.
Heinonen acknowledged that the West will be able to monitor larger Iranian facilities, but smaller ones could escape detection. He also noted that certain activities would leave traces that would be detectable even after Iran cleaned up, but many activities could be effectively hidden once a location was sanitized.
Heinonen gave the example of the Kelaya electric company, which was suspected of being a site for enriching uranium. Iran delayed IAEA inspectors’ access for several months in 2003; and renovated the building in the interim. By the time Iran allowed inspectors in, there were traces of enriched uranium at the facility, but not at the site that had been sanitized.
William Tobey, a nuclear nonproliferation expert, wrote earlier this week that process for gaining access to a suspected nuclear site may actually take longer than 24 days due to imprecision in the language of the deal.
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